Synopses & Reviews
World War I was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” Over four long years, nations around the globe were sucked into the tempest, and millions of men died on the battlefields. To this day, the war stands as one of history's most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation.
To End All Wars focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the wars critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Many of these dissenters were thrown in jail for their opposition to the war, from a future Nobel Prize winner to an editor behind bars who distributed a clandestine newspaper on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other.
As Adam Hochschild brings the Great War to life as never before, he forces us to confront the big questions: Why did so many nations get so swept up in the violence? Why couldn't cooler heads prevail? And can we ever avoid repeating history?
"WWI remains the quintessential war unequaled in concentrated slaughter, patriotic fervor during the fighting, and bitter disillusion afterward, writes Hochschild. Many opposed it and historians mention this in passing, but Hochschild, winner of an L.A. Times Book Award for Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, has written an original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place. These mostly admirable activists include some veteran social reformers like the formidable Pankhursts, who led violent pro-suffrage demonstrations from 1898 until 1914, and two members of which enthusiastically supported the war while one, Sylvia, opposed it, causing a permanent, bitter split. Sylvia worked with, and was probably the lover of, Keir Hardie, a Scotsman who rose from poverty to found the British Labor party. Except for Bertrand Russell, famous opponents are scarce because most supported the war. Hochschild vividly evokes the jingoism of even such leading men of letters as Kipling, Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and John Galsworthy. By contrast, Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"In this deeply moving history of the so-called Great War, those opposing its mindless folly receive equal billing with the politicians, generals, and propagandists obdurately insisting on its perpetuation. Implicit in Adam Hochschild's account is this chilling warning: once governments become captive of wars they purport to control, they turn next on their own people." Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
"Adam Hochschild is the rare historian who fuses deep scholarship with novelistic flair. In his hands, World War I becomes a clash not only of empires and armies, but of individuals: king and Kaiser, warriors and pacifists, coal miners and aristocrats. Epic yet human-scaled, this is history for buffs and novices alike, a stirring and provocative exploration of the Great War and the nature of war itself". Tony Horwitz, author of A Voyage Long and Strange
"The lives of the authors many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book....An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits." Kirkus Reviews
"An original, engrossing account that gives the war's opponents (largely English) prominent place....Hochschild paints equally vivid, painful portraits of now obscure civilians and soldiers who waged a bitter, often heroic, and, Hochschild admits, unsuccessful antiwar struggle." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Riveting....[Hochschild] has assembled an irresistible, unforgettable cast of characters." Associated Press
"Superb....Brilliantly written and reads like a novel....[Hochschild] gives us yet another absorbing chronicle of the redeeming power of protest." Star-Tribune
"This is the kind of investigatory history Hochschild pulls off like no one else....Hochschild is a master at chronicling how prevailing cultural opinion is formed and, less frequently, how it's challenged." NPR's Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan
"This is a book to make one feel deeply and painfully, and also to think hard." Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review
"Hochschild brings fresh drama to the story, and explores it in provocative ways....Exemplary in all respects." Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
"Hochschild has once again produced a moving account of one of the most terrible events of the recent past, bringing this story to life like few historians writing today." Seattle Times
"Compelling....A gifted storyteller, with an eye for the telling detail, Hochschild effectively and eloquently brings to life the senselessness of the war." Oregonian
World War I stands as one of history's most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings it to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the wars critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their opposition to the war were Britain's leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain's most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other.
Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the “war to end all wars.” Can we ever avoid repeating history?
A sweeping history of World War I, showcasing the war's critics as dramatically as its heroes and victims.
In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings WWI to life as never before, focusing on the long-ignored moral drama of its critics, alongside its generals and heroes. A brilliant new history of the Great War that raises the eternal question of why such a terrible war was ever fought.
About the Author
Adam Hochschild has written for the New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Granta, the New York Times magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. In King Leopold's Ghost, Bury the Chains, and other books, Hochschild has earned a reputation as a master of suspense and vivid character portrayal. His skill at evoking such struggles for justice has made him a finalist for the National Book Award and won him a host of other prizes.
Table of Contents
List of Maps ix
Introduction: Clash of Dreams xi
Part I Dramatis Personae
1. Brother and Sister 3
2. A Man of No Illusions 16
3. A Clergymans Daughter 27
4. Holy Warriors 40
5. Boy Miner 54
6. On the Eve 65
Part II 1914
7. A Strange Light 79
8. As Swimmers into Cleanness Leaping 98
9. The God of Right Will Watch the Fight 114
Part III 1915
10. This Isnt War 135
11. In the Thick of It 147
12. Not This Tide 160
Part IV 1916
13. We Regret Nothing 177
14. God, God, Wheres the Rest of the Boys? 200
15. Casting Away Arms 215
Part V 1917
16. Between the Lions Jaws 241
17. The World Is My Country 257
18. Drowning on Land 275
19. Please Dont Die 289
Part VI 1918
20. Backs to the Wall 309
21. There Are More Dead Than Living Now 329
Part VII Exeunt Omnes
22. The Devils Own Hand 347
23. An Imaginary Cemetery 360
Source Notes 379
About the Author 449